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German Navy Green Lights Laser-Based Weapon for Naval Warships

The German armed forces have commissioned a joint partnership of two defense manufacturers to build a laser weapon for the navy.

The weapon, to be manufactured jointly by MBDA Germany and Rheinmetall Waffen Munition, is expected to be created, tested, and integrated by the end of 2021, said Rheinmetall Defence in a statement.

The following year, a prototype will be tested on the navy warship F-124 Sachsen.

The Sachsen is the German Navy’s latest class of anti-air defense frigates designed to detect and destroy stealth fighter aircraft and cruise missiles.

MBDA, Rheinmetall to Share Development Equally 

Both firms have been assigned an equal share of the platform’s development work.

While MBDA Germany will develop the tracking, control console, and command system connection to the prototype, Rheinmetall will be responsible for building the laser weapon station, beam guidance system, cooling, and integration.

“The contract is an important step towards an operational high-energy laser system,” said Doris Laarmann, Head of Business Development Laser at MBDA Germany. “Both companies will use their respective strengths to make the project a success in the interests of the German Navy.”

“With the demonstrator, important topics such as the interaction of sensors, command/weapon deployment system and the effector as well as rules of engagement are tested onboard the frigate.”

Laser Weapon Systems

This recent development by Germany comes on the heels of US defense manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, announcing last month that the US Navy will be testing its laser-based HELIOS system for permanent vessel deployment early this year.

The US Army is also working on developing high-energy laser weapons to be deployed on tactical vehicles to gain an increased edge on the battlefield. By 2022, two of these combat lasers, classes of 50 kilowatt-class weapons, will be attached to Stryker vehicles for combat deployment, the US army announced last year.

Previously, the Japanese government announced plans to develop a vehicle-mounted counter-drone laser system.

Lasers are new generation defense systems that are precise, strike targets with the speed of light, and have the least possible risk of collateral damage.

Laser weapons systems are presently at various stages of development in many countries.

If the HELIOS system is deployed on US Navy vessels this year as announced, it will be the first force in the world to have such a system fully operational and ready for combat.

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